A week and two days before leaving behind California and my summer internship at E! News, a phone call to my mother over excitement about a life dream come true turned into a full blown quarter life meltdown. The stream of tears meant for the moment I exchanged eye contact and “hellos” with Tyra Banks (we’re best friends) turned into sobbing about not wanting the summer to end. I ugly cried in my car all the way to the gas station, then to In-N-Out.
It was cute.
Two of the best months of my life were coming to an end. No more rooftop sunsets, or morning commutes, or mid-day adventures. No more hikes or city lights. No more hectic days in the newsroom, or morning meetings, or press junkets, or coffee runs. I was about to be back at school for my last year of college—which is the best feeling in the world when you go to JMU—but suddenly it didn’t seem as exciting as it did every other year. I was sad, confused about my future, and it felt like the best days were behind me. Through the sound of my sobbing, my mom told me this:
If you don’t close this chapter of your life, then you won’t be able to enjoy the next one.
What a great woman.
Here I am, one month into the last semester of my senior year.
I took her advice.
I did a lot of wonderful things last semester. I was a First Year Orientation Guide to 31 incredible first year girls. I produced a short student film (P.S. never ever do that while you’re a full-time college student, employee, and actual human being with social, physical, and emotional needs). I had my original short creative non-fiction essay on sexual assault published in the literary & arts magazine, Gardy Loo. I went to football games and on hikes and to parties (which is saying a lot if you know me, #grandma). I was in two small movies, emceed a poetry jam for the first time, was there when ESPN College Game Day came to campus, went to Disney World with some of my best friends, turned 21, made new friends and re-connected with old, and finally learned how to put air in my tires by myself.
I learned a lot of things last semester. Flexibility is key (thanks, Orientation). If you want something to be a priority, make it a priority. Showing up and not being present is worse than just saying “no”. It’s possible to get over it (even when you think you never will), and you will get over it. Forgiveness and loving others is not easy; it’s hard and deliberate and worth it. And finally—good things don’t happen in a day. As long as you try to be a better you than you were yesterday, there is no need to compete with others.
I’ve closed the summer chapter of my life with a smile and a grateful heart. But now I’m trying to live in the present one while preparing for the next.
My roommate, Lauren, put it best on a walk through the Arboretum the night before our first day of classes started.
“Our whole lives we’ve known the next step. Elementary school, middle school, high school, then college. For the first time our lives—we don’t know what’s next.”
And she’s right.
I have no idea where I’m going.
And I’m terrified.
It’s like walking through a large dark room with no walls. Everything is scary and shadowed and uncertain. The possibilities are endless. Time is passing quickly. Your hands are in front of you—just waiting to crash into something—but you never do. You know you’re safe, but you feel alone. There are too many directions to choose from. You feel helpless. You feel lost.
But there is something is special in times like these.
I feel much like I did during my last few weeks at E! News: a hint of depressed (this can’t be the end—can it?), a little bit frantic, and a “lot” bit nostalgic.
The most prominent feeling, though?
The desire to live.
No matter how many inspiring blog posts and pins and pictures we look at, living in the moment is a thing much easier said than done. But that’s why I’m a junkie for seasons like this (I’ll talk about that later) in our lives. It brings out this pureness in us. A zest for life and a craving to be present. An unsureness that we are sure to grow in and learn in and take from. I hope to take full advantage of that.
I truly believe that some of the best times in our lives is when we are lost and bewildered. And it happens at a different time for everyone; multiple times, even. Maybe we don’t know who we are or what we want or where we’re going next. But we’re figuring it out. And that’s the fun part.
I read this thing once.
It was a book of poetry titled Black Nature, and in it was a poem titled “The Herd.” It was about bugs (stick with me). I was kind of confused, at first, but then nothing was more clear to me than these few lines:
Some with front legs still bent
under them, some with eyes caught shining
as if they had never seen the world before.
I knew perfectly what it meant, because I had been there before. Those precious moments right before flight. The excitement in your heart. The wonder in your eyes. The terror in your stomach. The readiness to take on the world; what’s in front of you.
I had been there before.
And I want to go there again.
Dear senior year.
I’m ready to take flight.
Until next time,
Side note: Never try driving in Los Angeles while sobbing.